Blogposts

Content:
A Blogpost outlining Kenya’s Vision 2030 peace education program, which is intended to encourage school age children to solve conflicts in a constructive manner and without resorting to violence. It was created to respond to the violence in Kenya after the 2007-2008 elections. The program aims to help build cultures of peace within these schools and to then have these students take these peaceful attitudes and build a peaceful society
3 objectives:
1. Creating awareness about the sources of conflict and how to deal with them in our daily lives
2. Classroom as the main arena where the values of “positive interdependence, social justice and participation in decision making are learned and practiced”
3. Creating respect for cultural diversity and fostering peaceful, diverse communities by encouraging positive images
Resource is located on DevEd website, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of those in developing countries through education that is tailored to their needs and local culture and practices
Context:
-Depending on how the resource is utilized, it can be used for a variety of age levels in formal educational settings.
-The objectives encourage global values that many aspire to and seek to promote
-The sooner in life we begin promoting peaceful ideals, the more likely they are to stick with a child and help mold them into a peace-building adult.
-It’s integrated into the standard/required courses (History, Social Studies, Religious Education, etc.), but is also encouraged in co-curricular activities like Drama, Music, art, etc.
-The values promoted by the program are universal and can be adapted for any environment, so long as its goal is to create a peaceful, safe space
Implementation:
-In order to incorporate this resource and the values it promotes, educators would need to actively reconsider and restructure their current curriculum. They would need to actively encourage the promotion of peace education in both the formal school setting and the informal “after school” setting where students participate in elective activities
-Logistics and materials: this program would require teachers be trained and educated on the subject of peace education, they might require sample curriculums in which peace education has already been integrated, access to peace education materials, and some training/education in conflict resolution/mediation.
-Because it would require some major changes, the implementation of this curriculum would require a large amount of time and might even need to be implemented gradually (perhaps first in the afterschool extra curricular activities and then spreading to the main curriculum)
-At the end, challenges faced by the program are outlined and educators and school administrators should take these into consideration
-Curriculum encourages and focuses on the importance of music and drama as vehicles for students to create peaceful school environments and communities.
Goal:
-Kids develop cultural awareness, patience, and a strong sense of responsibility.
-They are active participants in their own education and are able to implement their own ideas and decisions they believe will be imperative for them to grasp certain subjects.
-The banking method is completely ruled out and replaced with active discussions and participation that includes everyone, along with the teacher to facilitate.

Audience:
-Fairfax County teachers would definitely benefit from this program. I feel it would be especially beneficial for educators teaching in elementary schools as students are young and can be taught these lessons early on. Teaching children tolerance, acceptance, and understanding from a young age can shape them into well-adjusted adults who can better manage conflicts.
– An after school program educator in a diverse community can also gain from the program. Many after school programs have kids from various backgrounds come together which can lead to conflicts of race and culture. If those in charge of after school programs can implement the concepts from this program, kids can learn to better understand each other and navigate their conflicts.

A Place for Supporting Community and Sharing Resources: The National Peace Academy

When searching for group that offers something for the peace education world, I came across the National Peace Academy. The National Peace Academy (NPA) was founded in order to allow and encourage peace professionals and community organizers to continue practicing and share their knowledge with others. To sustain peace movements, leaders, organizers, and educators need a place to share resources and what they have learned as a way to give back. While the content isn’t tailored solely to the public education realm, there are resources for teachers surrounding the 5 spheres of peace. NPA’s 5 Spheres of Peace include social, ecological, personal, institutional, and political; these themes are the foundations for the different programs, events, and curriculums offered. This model would be easy to incorporate in formal and informal education for kids from grades K-8, especially in Civics course.

  • How to use this resource: NPA offers many opportunities for those interested in peace education. Under their Programs and Projects page, readers can learn about offerings such as School Teacher and Administrator Trainings, the International Institute on Peace Education, Peacebuilder Teleconference Dialogues, and the Global Campaign for Peace Education. The more valuable link for those interested in learning or facilitating the learning of others would be the Ed Resources section. Resources include access to past dialogues and a “study guide” section. From the study guide, learners can access curriculum developed for children, youth, and adults around the 5 spheres of peace. The resource makes it very clear that these lessons are just a starting point for peace education and teachers should feel free to continue developing their own lessons and activities. Each lesson contains a list of activities, resources, and preparation guides for the teacher in order to have the lesson run smoothly; these predesigned lessons and activities can be adapted as educators see fit.
  • Goal– This resource supports peace education by offering resources around 5 branches of peace. By extending these resources to the large community, NPA looks to be a guiding organization that offers a framework and foundation for integrating peace education activities into classrooms across the nation. By having youth focus on topics such as self-reflection, mindfulness, thinking about conflict, and active listening, educators could help develop the skills that youth would have to grow and develop in the modern world. This gets at some of the defining goals of peace education mentioned by Betty Reardon such as global agency, cultural proficiency, conflict competency, and gender sensitivity by giving youth and children the tools to discuss these topics. By offering other access points like dialogues and events, teachers can get the support and education they need to introduce the work authentically to students. Sharing knowledge and resources makes changing the culture to one that supports peace education much easier for teachers knowing that they aren’t alone in their efforts.
  • Audience- Two stakeholders who could benefit from this program teachers, mainly grades K-8, interested in incorporating peace education in their classrooms or learners of any age who are willing to dive into the self-study of the 5 spheres of peace; this network is not exclusive to educators, but broadly open to anyone interested in learning more on their own volition.

Teachers Without Borders’ Girls Earthquake Science and Safety Initiative

Founded in 2000, non-profit organization Teachers Without Borders (TWB) was founded on the prospect of spreading peace education methods worldwide. It is run by educators and local leaders who aim to provide educational resources for disadvantaged students around the world, by providing strengthened curricula and materials (i.e.: textbooks, technology, and community building, among several other factors).

Content: The Girls’ Earthquake Science and Safety Initiative is a joint project administered by TWB, The Global Earthquake Model, The Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, and the U.S. Geological Survey. This program combines geological science and earthquake education to empower young women within the classroom. It aim to build educational prowess and self-esteem from the ground-up for all students that it serves.

Context: This program aims to educate 100,000 young women in Central and Southern Asia, regions prone to earthquakes. It is currently implemented to serve students and educators in nations such as Tajikistan, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. An instructor with a strong engineering background is put into each of the schools to help administer the process. The initiative is fiscally conducive, and only costs 60 USD per enrolled student.

Implementation: Mentors ask students to survey a million buildings within the school’s community. The curriculum is applicable to students at the primary, intermediate and secondary levels. Additionally, specific curricula have been tailored to fit each community within the initiative. Students become earthquake prevention literate, in addition to getting a stronger science background.

How this program is used: TWB sends a collective of earthquake measuring tools along with the mentor. This allows students to fully participate and glean the greatest amount of knowledge from these lessons. The curriculum is divided into 12 different units. There are corresponding textbook readings and activities for each unit. Each activity is hands-on, and teaches students to apply the information from the text to create an innate understanding of the lesson plan. After each unit is covered, students participate in an extensive codification art and literacy project to show the extent of their knowledge.

Goals: The Girls’ Earthquake Science and Safety Initiative aims to not only fill the gaps that lack from these students’ educations in both earthquake preparedness and sciences, but to actually use the research conducted by the students to help with earthquake prevention in their communities. Additionally, it intends to empower young women with the hope that young women in these communities have the confidence to perhaps lead within a field that is consistently dominated by men.

Audience: Students and educators in areas that are also prone to caustic national disasters could definitely benefit from a similar curriculum for their students. Additionally, anyone interested in the peace education process, or interested in creating an empowering environment for female students to gain self-esteem, communication and critical analysis skills would definitely be interested in this curriculum.

USIP: Peacebuilding Toolkit for Educators

The United States Institute of Peace, Global Peacebuilding Center has made toolkits to support educators as peacebuilders. It is easily downloaded and introduces key concepts of peacebuilding skills and themes to use as a resource in the classroom. Details of the resource can be found on USIP’s website and the Global Peacebuilding Center which is an extension of USIP’s educational work.

I think the peacebuilding toolkit is best placed for middle and high school students as it was designed, however elementary educators could also benefit from these lessons in the classroom. There are separate editions of the resource for middle and high school students. It can also be taught in Spanish, French, and Arabic. The toolkit is very beneficial for educators to learn more about international conflict management.

An educator may incorporate this resource collectively by downloading the entire toolkit or only use specific individual lessons for the students. It can be implemented in the lesson plan on a bi weekly or monthly basis. To strengthen the use of the resource, the educator can have different activities for practical skills in conflict management.

This peacebuilding toolkit for educators is an informative start to gain more knowledge on peacebuilding. Peace education of preventing violent conflict and how to be a peace builder are most supported by this resource because it gives educators a platform of how to teach peacebuilding skills. Students will gain many skills such as, mediation, negotiation, problem solving and conflict analysis.

All educators can benefit from this toolkit, particularly for students in middle and high school. Students should be encouraged to be a part of peacebuilding in their lives and globally. These skills and attitudes can be learned. The main audience for this resource will be teachers who want to bring important global issues to their classroom and encourage their students to be peace builders.

2013 in review: Peacelearner Blog Worldwide Visits from over 90 Countries

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,700 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Learning from our past: a monument dedicated to a peaceful future without nuclear weapons

Location:
Children’s Peace Monument – Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan

Content:
The resource is an actual location where peace education can be applied and has been applied around the world in past years. Within the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park stands a statue of a young girl holding a crane. The girl is Sadako Sasaki who was only two-years-old when Hiroshima was hit by the atomic bomb in 1945. She died at the age of twelve after she developed leukemia, which was due to the radiation she was exposed to from the bombing as a toddler. Sadako had been folding paper cranes while she was in the hospital after being diagnosed in the hopes that folding 1,000. She believed she would be cured according to an old Japanese legend. Sadako and the cranes thus became a symbol of peace and a world without nuclear weapons. I found this resource through my interest in Sadako Sasaki as I had read a book about her life. Through more research, I found out that there is an actual commemorative statue for her in Hiroshima, Japan.

Context:
I think this field trip location would be an excellent source of information and inspiration for people of all ages. It is appropriate for children as it celebrates the life and ambitions of a young victim of war. For adults, it could be a humbling example of the lasting and irreparable effects of nuclear warfare. The most important lesson that could be learned is the importance of peace and finding a peaceful resolution before all else. Inscribed on the statue is: “This is our cry, this is our prayer: for building peace in the world,” which I believe is a poignant message of the lesson to be learned.

Implementation/Pedagogies:

For educators outside of Japan, teaching at this location could be difficult. It would require time, planning, and money. If, however, it can be arranged it is an invaluable and wonderful example of the importance of peace and the consequences of a world without it. Not only the statue but also the entire Peace Park holds the remains of the damage caused by the bombings. This trip could be a formal or informal way of learning. Classroom style instructions and teachings would be required to help the students understand the history of the Peace Park. That might be mistaken for the banking method of learning that Paulo Friere refers to. However, it would involve active learning that includes the student’s ideas that add on to the history the teacher provides the students about Hiroshima and the story of Sadako Sasaki itself. Students always learn more in an active environment where they are free to express themselves and learn about a subject in different ways so they are fully able to understand the importance of the lesson without the teacher forcing it upon them.

However, if a trip to the location is not possible, it is entirely possible to teach from the classroom in a positive and productive way that doesn’t inhibit the student’s learning experience. Sadako Sasaki’s story stands as one example of what the people of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the entirety of Japan had to face.

Example of a lesson that could take place of the trip:
Lesson 1: Short background on the war and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (includes death toll and after effects)
Lesson 2: Story of Sadako Sasaki and how she was affected by the war (illness and eventual death)
Lesson 3: Introduce lessons the teacher thinks should be learned
Lesson 4: Ask students if and how the bombings could have been avoided and what lessons they believe are important
Lesson 5: Ask students what pedagogies and ideals would have been beneficial for the leaders and decision makers behind the bombings to have.

Goals:
I hope that through learning about this location and the story of Sadako Sasaki, students will develop more tolerant and patient attitudes. The atrocities that took place in Japan were partly due to the desire of United States to win the war and end it no matter the cost. This type of attitude will not work when we’re trying to promote a more peaceful world. Even today, there is talk of nuclear war and the use of nuclear weapons. During these volatile times, we need the individuals making the decisions to be patient, knowledgeable, and humane. If students can draw inspiration from the monument, hopefully one day they can be the leaders we need.

Audience:

High school students in history or government classes in Fairfax County could be a great audience for this type of activity. Older students might have a higher chance of being able to go to the actual site and also implement their own ways of thinking/activities to do. If this isn’t possible then even elementary and middle school students would benefit from the classroom exercise option. Community individuals from countries like Iran, North Korea (may be a bit unrealistic), Russia, the U.K., and many other nations could also benefit from learning the deadly impact nuclear warfare can have on people. This activity in general doesn’t have a specific age group because everyone can learn something from it.

Teaching History Differently: The Zinn Education Project

History is often told from the winner’s point of view, neglecting many different populations of people who have histories of their own. In the context of US History, the story told has been dominated by White men leaving other stories untold in a public school setting. Paulo Friere in his work Pedagogy of the Oppressed states the importance of teaching history as “a means of understanding more clearly what and who [a people] are so that they can more wisely build the future” (Friere 84). How can today’s students wisely build the future if only one narrative is being told?

The Zinn Education Project, Teaching A People’s History, attempts to break the White male dominated narrative by offering curriculum that emphasizes the roles of minorities like the working class, people of color, and women along with organized social movements. The Project was initiated by a Boston University journalism student, William Holtzman who wanted to further Howard Zinn’s work. Zinn is famous for his civil disobedience and non-violent activism specifically during the 1960s. He has authored many books, but perhaps his most famous work is A People’s History, which portrays US History from a minority perspective. Holtzman worked with Zinn and in conjunction with two non-profits advocating for social justice related curriculum: Teaching for Change and Rethinking Schools.

  • How to use this resource: The Project offers different teaching materials by time period, theme, or resource type for free. Teachers of any age group could go on the website, register, and pick an activity or article to download for a specific time period. In addition to planning the activities corresponding to what students are currently learning, a class set of A People’s History of The United States and Voices of A People’s History of The United States would help round out the activities with readings and references from the textbooks. Activities do not indicate how long to plan for, but some of them are very extensive. For example, the role play activity on the origins of modern high schools could take three class periods. Time for the lesson would depend on preparation, an activity, and a debriefing. A pedagogy that would strengthen this curriculum would be one where the teacher guides students with questions–problem-posing. This would allow the students to maximize the activities and articles by letting them do the questioning and discovery with the help of the teacher to guide them.
  • Goal– This resource supports peace education by offering a change in perspective from the status quo helping learners become more culturally proficient in diversity. Teaching students about different peoples’ histories and narratives could open their minds and change their world views. The knowledge of minorities and mass protests could inspire questioning and critical analysis of the current system, making them well-informed global citizens who challenge popular opinion and decisions by looking deeper.
  • Audience- Two stakeholders who could benefit from this program are Social Studies and History teachers for any age group and students of any age interested in different historical perspectives. This information is by no means limited to these two large groups of people; anyone can benefit from re-examining history from a different perspective. Any person who has taken US History should take a look at atleast Zinn’s two works listed above for a more accurate portrayal of how the US has developed. The only difficulty in implementing this change in a curriculum would be standardized testing as the things they are looking for students to know do not necessarily align with this particular version of the US History narrative.